“Underground” Overstands!

Image result for underground wgn seriesThe WGN America Channel series “Underground” details the lives of enslaved Africans on a Georgia plantation in the 1850’s and their quest to escape the bondage that is the American holocaust. For the first time in my recollection, enslaved Africans are portrayed as intelligent, thinking, capable human beings; in spite of their living in such an inhumane state of affairs.  Each character, uses their own agency that if collaborated enables freedom.  Be it women, who were thought would have slowed the process; or men who were suspect of blowing it – they were shown as being capable of understanding that their dismissal of who they were as Africans, even if not mentioned as such, did not and would not make them more acceptable to their White slave masters. In a word, they were clear as to the situation being nightmare of nightmares.  Which begs the question; “Does the 21st century American African get it?”

We’ve heard countless comments and iterations from so-called Black celebrities suggesting that they are “not African.”  Some of these celebrities actually were “surprised” on shows that reveal their DNA’s origins that their ancestry ended up in the very place they were attempting to deny.  It’s as if the dismissal of such will make it all better, even though the displays of hatred have been enhanced in ways that are reminiscent of enslavement.  What’s even more perplexing is the willingness to expend energy at campaign rallies where the welcoming mat is…non existent; and be even more surprised when physical and penal violence is heaped.  Imagine if all that synergy was crafted into a think tank or strategy to pool resources, and strengthen the lot.  Imagine.

So, it is my hope that “our people” (for every brother/sister is not a brother/sister) get a clue and tune into the series for more than just entertainment purposes; but for the  reality check.  Ignoring this history or dismissing it as a bygone era is dangerous.  This mentality contributes to a belief that all is well in the face of the violent physical, psychological, spiritual and mental deaths against Black folk: men, women, boy, girl – in similar manner to the 1850s.

“Underground” Overstands: do you?

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Valid Dreams of Lupita

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Winning an Oscar has evaded persons of Black African descent in America for long stretches of time. Yet “12 Years A Slave” Best Picture win seemingly called attention to something so-called African Americans have been portraying on the screen for years: the brutal, racist slavery in this country, and the story of free Africans in America.  So one may wonder why this film was considered more than those past, most specifically the late author Alex Haley’s genealogical account of his family from Africa to America, “Roots.”  Simple.  The director Steve McQueen, and actors Lupita Nyong’o and Chiwetel Ejiofor are African.  Which makes this a significant win but one wrought with facing the identity crisis for so-called African American people: that any denial of a link to the continent of our ancestors is a sickness that continues to plague us.

I remember Whoopi Goldberg stating she was “American”; declaring that adding African was “limiting”.  So basically if we are American from being born here, but our ancestral roots expand across a hemisphere, wouldn’t be wise to claim it? We are quite declarative about being Native American and Black.  If we have White ancestry which reflects in our skin tone and hair length it brings a type of interesting privilege among us.  Yet we look at our African heritage as if it is a bastard stepchild.  Hmmmm…

Months ago the documentary “Dark Girls” debuted on television detailing the hurt and pain of those of a darker hue being referred to as ugly and undesirable; most sadly by many Black folk.  BET’s “Being Mary Jane” emphasized this when Gabrielle Union’s unmarried niece who is 19 years old and having her second child stated that her daughter would be pretty with long hair because the father was Filipino. She further intimated that her being overweight and dark skinned limited her chances in life so being sexually adept was the only way she could garner attention; period.

Interestingly, in spite of Lupita’s deep, rich beautiful skin tone, the so-called African American community seems to have completely embraced her features. Comments such a “radiant” and “beautiful” have been attributed to her without hurtful iterations, most especially, “She’s pretty for a dark skinned girl.”  Her hair has not been a subject of concern being short and to her scalp.  In fact she’s seen as being sharp without suggestion of a weave or wig.

What’s up with that BLACK PEOPLE?! I’ll tell you what’s up: the longer we refuse to identify with our AFRICAN heritage the longer we will linger in self hate.

After all in the words of Dr. Maya Angelou, Lupita is the “hope and the dream of the slave”…

VALID!

The Re-UP: “Hey Hey Hey!”…what say ye Oprah on Robin Thicke’s marriage ending?

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On the OWN Network’s television show Oprah’s Next Chapter Oprah sang the praises of Robin Thicke: Doting father; loving husband.  Born into privilege, the talented singer and songwriter was also for a time in his life a heavy cocaine user who a little less than a few years ago was arrested in New York for firing up in his car. The child of a popular Hollywood actor and songwriter-Mom, Oprah gave Thicke a proverbial pass for the lyrics of the 2013 song of the summer, “Blurred Lines”.  The original video which sported three topless women was eventually edited with three women prancing around in flesh tone underwear under a plastic jumpsuit of sorts.  Add Happy’s Pharrell and the ATL’s T.I. and you have 2013’s most memorable exploitation of women in a music video (maybe a close second to Nelly’s sliding a credit card down the crack of a woman’s azz; but I digress).

Where most Black male celebrities have to be damn near perfect, stellar and non-threatening to get a glimmer of praise (especially as she has branched out to talk to…RAPPERS!) it seemed that Robin Thicke’s saving grace was being married actress Paula Patton.  The biracial woman (in America…that means BLACK) Patton and Thicke have been together since high school and recently announced their separation.  A little shocking? Meh.  No surprise? Exactly.

During Oprah’s interview Thicke mentioned the “parties” the couple sponsored after award events. Viewing a brief clip of the couple just before the festivities, Patton smiling devilishly helped one realize what type of party was poppin’ off (no pun intended…weeellll, maybe).  Add rumors that the two had an open marriage, and a few pictures of White man behaving badly with other women and voila! Off to divorce court we go.

Well, I hate to see such a long standing relationship and marriage come to an end.  And maybe Thicke received a “Black card” for being married to a bi-racial Black woman.  Or maybe his ability to appeal to the so-called Black community and his being comfortable with the brothers and sisters was nice for a while.  But for all intents and purposes Thicke possibly realized he was missing out on something that he took for granted: his White privilege.  Maybe he woke up and decided it was better to be who he was and move forward with a woman who more fully understands that at the end of the day that I am a White Man with privileges that I will continue to miss out on married to a Black Woman.  

Hey Hey Hey Oprah…what say ye?!